The US shale gas arrives in the UK

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The Scotland has beautiful have in place since January 2015, a moratorium on the exploitation of shale gas this has not prevent the latter, high polemical content, arriving at UK . Tuesday, September 27, the petrochemical company Ineos has imported its first cargo from the United States. Shortly before noon, the LNG JS-Ineos-Insight finished his crossing of the Atlantic, with its 27 500 cubic meters of ethane. If he could not land at its plant in Grangemouth, 40 kilometers west of Edinburgh, because of strong winds (despite the politicians and journalists who were waiting), this is only a matter of days. This is the first import of shale gas in the UK.

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“This is a first transportation capital” says, the World Jim Ratcliffe, the owner and founder of Ineos. Its Grangemouth refinery, which converts ethane into ethylene (for to then plastic), running at half speed since 2008. The raw material was missing: there is no longer enough ethane in the North sea, the British side.

There are three, facing great strikes in Grangemouth, Mr Ratcliffe, renowned for be very hard business, has an agreement with its employees.

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There are three-year deal with strikes in Grangemouth, Jim Ratcliffe, reputed to be tough in business, has an agreement with its employees. In exchange for a salary freeze, a reduction of their pension and a promise not to strike for three years, Mr. Ratcliffes’est launched the challenge to import ethane from the gas American shale. Investment: $ 2 billion (€ 1.8 billion) . “Otherwise, Grangemouth would have closed. “

Construction of new vessels

For years, Mr. Ratcliffe was eyeing the revolution of American shale gas. It has petrochemical plants in Europe and the United States saw the huge difference: the price of American energy plummeted, while it increased in the Old Continent

.

Meanwhile, the United States flowed from shale gas and the idea of ​​ export began to emerge . It remained to put up the process, so that all American pipeline network was turned towards import. It took reverse streams, sign new operations to the existing network, change port facilities. Ineos has signed a supply agreement with the deposit Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, which contains a high content of ethane.

If the British government supports the industry oil, local people are resisting

The crossing of the Atlantic also required the construction of new vessels. So far, ethane was transported by small vessels over quite short distances. Ineos has build a fleet of four LNG carriers, which will be extended to eight by 2020. Finally, near the refinery, ethane huge tanks had to be installed for receive cargo. Until then, deliveries, smaller and regular, did not require such storage.

In March, the first import of shale gas in Europe took place. An LNG Ineos reached Rafnes in Norway where the company has another petrochemical complex. Grangemouth was the next step.

“Farmers millionaires”

M. Ratcliffe does not intend to remain there: instead of importing shale gas, he dreams of exploit in the UK. Significant deposits would be in the British underground. In 2014, Ineos has launched a major offensive, buying many exploration licenses and hiring a public consultation process with local communities. His great promise them pay 6% of revenues wells, of which two thirds to the owners of land drilled. Mr. Ratcliffe is dangled the possibility of create of “millionaire farmers” .

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But his progress is slow. It has not yet filed its first application for exploration authorization ( get the green light from local authorities is needed) and charges already more than a year behind its original schedule.

“We will ask fifty by the end of the year” he promises.

Shale gas has transformed the US economy

If the British government supports with all his might the oil industry, local people strongly resisted. Since 2011, no exploration of shale gas is in progress in the UK. Town halls rejected drilling applications. In May, a city gave its green light to a project but this decision is subject to appeal in court. In Scotland, the government has chosen to impose a moratorium, pending y see clearer on the ecological risks. Monday 26 September, the Labor Party announced that he wanted prohibit shale gas when returning to power .

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What Mr. Ratcliffe responds to these concerns?

“I do not understand. Shale gas has transformed the US economy. And this is not a new science. One million wells have been dug in the United States. They would not do it if it was dangerous or bad for environment . “

It recognizes that the technology has “some problems in the beginning” but says this one is now well controlled.

The Friends of the Earth rejected this argument, noting that fracking requires injecting very high pressure, huge amounts of water mixed with chemicals “which can infect soil and groundwater “. In addition, it considers that the operation of additional hydrocarbon reserves is contrary to the promise of the United Kingdom of fight against global warming. Until resolve this conflict continue to Ineos import this resource in the United States.

                        

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